Friday, July 9, 2010

World Cup, pt. 9

yup - this is long - I don't know who reads this anyway, so if you give up in 3 paragraphs, I'll never know.

The next World Cup starts on June 26, 2011 in Germany. Yes, 2011. This will be the 6th cup for women. Germany is the 2-time-in-a-row defender. We have won 2 of the 5; Norway has the other. In comparison to the men, no one is going to be surprised if the US or Germany makes it to the semifinals.

Now this won't be a rant about women's sports getting the short end of the deal with support from their various national sporting associations or governments. I might, but it will be later. And will involve tea sets.

Oh, what the hell, I'll do it now.

I realize that women's sports doesn't have the draw that men's do. It's stupid, but it's reality. I could argue, rather than about women's sports, about gender discrimination in sports in general. Or the down-side to Title IX in sports. The stupidity of society in general about sports.

Oh, what the hell, I don't know where to start.

Tea sets:
In 1989, after winning their 1st UEFA championship, the German National Women's team received a tea set. Not even a really nice one, either. Not even one in black and white with red & gold highlights, or with the Deutsche Fußball Bund logo, or even the ordinary German eagle, not a really modern design, not even a completely goofy one with the pot designed to look like their jerseys. Nope - a quaint, old-fashioned pastel floral design. Yes, in '07 for winning the World Cup, they got a 50,000 € bonus. You can buy a lot of tea sets for 50k €.

Why doesn't American society want to spend the time or money on sports other than the Holy Trinity (basketball, baseball & football)? Ice hockey I understand being a geographically limited sport. The expansion of the NHL has made it more appealing in warmer climates, where they now have easy access to it. E.g. Hurricanes, Coyotes, Stars. I understand, given the already limited audience, the limited opportunity for women to have a pro hockey league. But soccer? Not even men's soccer gets the coverage that the lower-Nielsen-rated NHL does. But why not?

If sports are subsidized by commercial advertising dollars, and these companies want to make more money, I would think the opportunity for yet more commercialization would appeal to them. You would have different companies "sponsoring" the women's teams. Victoria's Secret isn't going to advertise for the NFL; although I don't understand why not. If the point of advertising is to a) get name recognition and b) increase sales, why not try to get the guys to buy sexy stuff for their girlfriends? Or themselves? More women are watching pro sports. Why not appeal to them through this venue? Are these feminine-appeal companies worried about being associated with men's sweat? If advertising at women's sports, are they worried about their name being associated with Brandi Chastain's bra?

Look at the sheer volume of ad dollars spent by Nike & Adidas impacting couch potatoes who aren't going to buy actual sporting gear. These guys are the ones buying ordinary clothes with the little swoop/3-stripes adding 175% to the otherwise expensive item. An activity equally participated in by women.

FIFA's general website is pretty thin for the women's branch. The page for the women's world cup is pathetic. Why can't they at least put more stories there? I'm not expecting the same level of coverage as the men. Afterall, the women don't have as much opportunity for professional play and therefore there is simply less to report. Nevertheless, the "recent news" for tournaments has no stories about the women. Sure, you say, the men's world cup is going on as you type, what do you expect? I expect to have one link - just one! - to the story that the first group of teams has been qualified for the women's tournament next year. If you go to a national teams' page, the "honors" doesn't distinguish between men's and women's. For some reason, I'm sure the Dutch women's team wasn't in the 1924 Olympic finals.

Sexism is pervasive in society. Men's discrimination is generally ignored (who cares?) or refuted (it can't possibly exist) or justified (what goes around comes around & they deserve to see what it's like). Title IX has been a godsend to women's sports opportunities. This is good for general public health**, encouraging participation from a location other than the couch. Of course, long-term spending on public health is all too often considered a waste of time. This is good for men. However,

Colleges/universities eliminating men's teams in order to offer women's sports is equally sexist. Of course, it's equally total bullshit offered to deflect their obscene expenditure on Football and Men's Basketball and blame it on the federal government's 'interference'. It's bullshit offered to blame women. Double-dipping at the discrimination trough - make the men blame the women teams and the women defend their desires to have teams. All the while claiming "but football brings in money that we claim to spend on the educational parts of the university". Without exception I don't believe this. Okay, maybe 10 cents on the dollar goes to education. Because we can't in the same sentence acknowledge that the average football coach makes 5-25x what the average professor makes. (ibid, In 2001 the Gopher's coach made $1,300,000 per year.) Plus maintenance for the stadium, a cost no one mentions in arguing the bond issues for building these stadiums on tax-payer dollars, which must also be kept-up on the taxpayer purse.

Some men's teams get screwed under Title IX; some sit back and reap the benefits of the men's gymnastics team blaming the women's soccer team for lower funding.

The Girls of Summer (review possibly coming out later) is interesting, if not so well written. The title, however, pisses me off. Why can't a publishing house, who wants to publish a book about how women's soccer in the US has struggled against sexism and who presumably wants to market it to a primarily female audience, use the word woman rather than girl? grrrr... How about cover art similar to The Women's Room? Despite the content of the book, does the publisher fear female sports are really seen as ok only for little girls who haven't become real women? Or are they worried about turning off the idiots who still think professional women athletes are all lesbians whose uterus is now incapable of functioning properly? Seriously, I remember hearing b.s. like this when I was in jr. high (i.e., ~1976). Stupidity which fails to match the epic don't go swimming when having your period because it will suck the water up into you. It's not idiocy safely relegated to the 1950s or Terms of Endearment.

Googling Germany+national+women+soccer yields a wikipedia page on the national team, which is actually the men's team. Of course, that page was written likely by a political-idiot American who also states that "Germany" has never technically won the world cup. Implying only West Germany has. Ignoring this is the fact that only the English-speaking world called it "West Germany", and it has since May 23, 1949 always technically been the Federal Republic of Germany, which won the Men's World Cup in 1954 . So, depending on how you choose to look at it, either
a) "Germany" really did win the world cup in 1954 because the team fielded was from the Bundes Republik Deutschlands (i.e., the Federal Republic of Germany) and every single year since the team
team fielded has been from the Bundes Republik Deutschlands
or
b) In 1990 when the "west" won, reunification had "technically" been agreed upon.

And, the suggestion from Google asking if I really meant Germany+national+women's+soccer still doesn't even result in the German team, only the general page about women's soccer. I realize Google is a responsive tool, but really, to fail to provide the page on Germany when googling the exact title of the wikipedia page?

Of course, some women are self-defeatingly stupid, too. What fucktard thought playing in mini-skirts over hot-pants was a step forward for women's sports? Probably the same person retard lunatic man(you really expect me to believe a woman came up with this idea? ... okay, I guess that is my point) woman who thinks playing beach volley ball in a thong as an Olympic sport was a Bright Idea. Elegant? If the Dutch think this is elegant, I'd really hate to see what they think is unattractive. Look at the team photo - if you're posing and the first thing I think is "wow, you can see up their skirts" ... it ain't elegant, sister, it's selling sexy. Do you really need to look elegant to play soccer? What athlete driven to compete and win is going to care if she looks pretty when she's sweating like a stuck pig and gasping in exhaustion after running non-stop for 45 minutes? Do they seriously think this will encourage 12-year old girls to be aggressive and self-assertive? I gotta tell you, if wearing skirts had been required to play soccer, there is no way in hell you could have gotten me onto the pitch when I was 13. I was all for sports; and all for contact sports on top of that. Karate, judo, SCA-fighting, yes. Mini-skirts? Fuck no! Maybe skirts aren't the reason they're #16. This is Holland, the same team duking it out Sunday for the Men's World Cup Championship. It's not as though they come from a nation devoid of world-class examples, say, Botswana. Afterall, skirts are ranked higher than two shorts-wearing teams from countries with power-house men's teams (Spain & Argentina). Two.

Speaking of which, if one looks at the 16 teams who were in the quarter-finals of the men's world cup this year, you have:
country ---- men's rank --- women's rank
Germany --- 6 --- 2
Paraguay --- 31 --- 116
Uruguay --- 16 --- 116
Argentina --- 7 --- 29
Brazil --- 1 --- 3
Holland --- 4 --- 16
Spain --- 2 --- 20
Ghana --- 32 --- 44
USA --- 14 --- 1 ... yes, yes, I know we weren't in the quarter finals, but our women are #1
mind, this is national ranking and not tournament placing.
The difference between the Dutch men's and women's teams isn't sooooo big. It's not the absolute difference in ranking. Just because one team is ranked higher doesn't mean there's something wrong with the other. But the ranking does compare women, not both. though I am curious about the points - Brazil, men's #1 has 1611 points; USA, women's #1 has 2233. They both use the 3/1/0 point system. Why do the women's teams have so many more points than the men's? This is a serious question and I would like an answer, if you have one.

Ah, I need to stop

**website might not be there, article is:
Physical Activity and Public Health -- A Recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine, JAMA, (1995) 273, 402-407.

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1 comment:

ccyager said...

Soccer is so easy to play, and so cheap, it should be in every neighborhood for kids and adults, both male and female.

Approaching exercise and sport as a public health issue would bring it back into the schools in a big way, I think, and maybe put it more in the forefront to battle the grossly effective advertising of the soda and junk food companies. Obesity IS a public health issue as well as a health care issue and economic issue. Seeing how Americans eat from my perspective of one whose GI tract won't allow such overeating, it amazes me how individuals won't take responsibility for their eating choices. I don't believe that it's all a metabolic issue or genetics. Not for the number we have today.

So, starting even before school with regular physical exercise in fun games like soccer would go a long way to making it a habit. But there are no big, rich corporate entities who could make money selling this.....